Local citizens who are against the new Wal-Mart franchise that is being planned for the Frederick Towne Mall property are speaking out, after Thursday night's informational meeting was held inside of the Bon-Ton store. Steven Holman, who is heading up a petition drive to stop the development of the store, says this plan jeopardizes other businesses on the Golden Mile. "That's the main component of how it doesn't fall in place with the area plan," Holman said.
The Golden Mile Small Area Plan was designed by city leaders to revitalize the commercial corridor now filled with many empty shopping centers and vacant buildings. Holman said Wal-Mart has the potential to run small business owners out of business. "I walked to these stores. I hit the pavement and went store to store, and spoke with these owners. They are in fear," continued Holman.
He said the meeting was held in response to a speech that he submitted to officials. "I gave them a rip-roaring speech and I told them to shred it. Originally, Thursday's meeting was suppose to be completely open so I could present the speech again," said Holman. He said he was approached by a representative after Thursday night's meeting. "He told me I saw your speech online and we took notes.". Holman said officials changed the meeting to a 60 second question and answer session, despite his opposition. "So, I told the owner of Rockwood thanks for gloating and I'll be ready for round three."
Among the options for the city included in the plan, was modifying the current zoning. Right now, the more than 20 acres is zoned for a mix of commercial and residential construction. "I'm encouraging citizens to show up at the next public meeting, " he said.
June 5th is round three, when the Frederick Board of Aldermen will hold another public meeting to discuss zoning changes.
So far, more than 1400 people have signed a petition against the development.